A Pre-Finals Look Around the NBA

Kobe Bryant
Bryant vows he'll be ready for the opener this fall. What does that mean for your wagering?

If the National Football League is a 365-day spectacle full of trades, combines, off-field triumphs and tragedies and oh yes, some games, then what is the National Basketball Association by comparison? The NBA Finals (which I’ll break down tomorrow) are set for game one in Miami but there is no shortage of news around the Association. Much of the news as always could have an impact on how you wager heading into next season.

Where are free agents going? Who could be traded? What coach has a new address and what coach is staying put? These and many more things I address today as I bounce around the NBA.

Kobe Back for the Opener?  LA Laker Kobe Bryant said this week that he plans to return and be ready for opening day next fall. Hard to believe but Bryant is already into his sixth week of rehab and according to his doctors, everything is on schedule. Achilles’ injuries are always one of the most difficult to bounce back from and when you consider the mileage on Kobe, the question has to be asked as to whether he truly can ever return to form.

As hard as Bryant works, don’t put it past him but while you keep an eye on his status in regards to any futures bets this summer, pay attention to Dwight Howard as well. Bryant has made it clear he would like Howard to return but he knows there will be several offers. Should Howard go elsewhere that will impact your betting in terms of the Lakers.

Hill and Kidd
It was almost perfect that Hill and Kidd retired just days apart.

Hill, Kidd Call it Quits. How ironic that the same two guys who shared the NBA’s Rookie of the Year Award would retire after 19 seasons within just days of each other. While I believe both men will make the Hall of Fame, I also believe their selections will be for drastically different reasons.

Kidd leaves the NBA number two all-time in assists and steals. In both of those categories he trails only the great John Stockton. Despite struggling tremendously in the playoffs this year, Kidd was still vitally important at times to the Knicks capturing the Atlantic Division title. When eligible, he will more than likely go in on the first ballot.

Because the Basketball Hall of Fame covers both college and professional careers, Hill will enter the Hall more for his outstanding collegiate career than his injury-plagued pro one. Hill was a part of two Duke National Titles before being drafted by the Detroit Pistons. He’ll forever be etched in college basketball immortality because he was the man who threw the pass to Christian Laettner for his winning shot over Kentucky in the NCAA tournament. Hill was a very good NBA player but his injuries limited what could have been an outstanding career.

Where Does Hollins Land? Memphis Grizzlies’ Head Coach Lionel Hollins has been given permission to speak with other NBA teams this week but clearly stated that he wants to stay in Memphis. Hollins also stated that reports that he wanted Zach Randolph and Tony Allen off the team were not true. Whether accurate or not, one thing is for sure and that seems to be that Hollins does not have a rosy relationship with new Vice-President John Hollinger.

The former ESPN writer is a big believer in the new style of consulting analytics and stats before making too many moves. Hollins of course is much more of an old school guy who believes that front office people belong in the front office, not on the practice court. Hollins needs to be cautious because he doesn’t want to find himself out of job altogether by stringing other teams along.